More Picture Book Biographies for Kids Who Love Art
We hear you: Our first set of seven artist biographies weren’t enough. There are so many more amazing artists for your little one to discover. Since your kiddos practically devoured the last set of recommendations, here are some more picture book biographies on modern artists to fuel your children’s love of art:
by Anna Obiols
As surreal and imaginative as Dali’s own work, this book is one fantastical adventure. It’s focused on the artist as a small boy. He pulls back the sea like a bed sheet and finds a key underneath. He rides a long-legged elephant. He encounters a chef tossing melting clocks like pizzas...Little Salvi’s childhood dreams pave the way for the artist’s great works.
The illustrations really carry this story. Each page of this picture book features incredible images from Dali’s works of art. While this book isn’t filled with key facts on this artist’s life like a true biography, it does do a wonderful job of taking children through a visual journey. Isn’t that what Dali would have wanted anyway?
by Jonah Winter
From a childhood bout of polio to a debilitating car accident, Frida Kahlo’s life is a sad story. But writer Jonah Winter and illustrator Ana Juan do a masterful job of making it a beautiful one for children. With every challenge in her life, Frida turned to art, making critically-acclaimed masterpieces.
Filled with fabulous Mexican folk imagery and whimsical creatures, the illustrations bring another stunning dimension to a story rich with fighting spirit. This biography will not only put your own children’s troubles into perspective, it will help them channel hardship into creativity.
by Desiree la Valette
Bright colors, bold outlines, and playful paintings interpreted by children...what’s not to love about this book? With page after page of Keith Haring reproductions that dance, squirm, and jump off the page, kids will instantly be drawn into the highly expressive cartoonish paintings.
But a biography this is not. We just still had to list it here because not only is the book a wonderful introduction to the artist’s work, it also gives children a very powerful role as they go through it – one of interpreter.
Instead of a storyline with facts, figures, and milestones, the book is a collection of children’s reactions to the paintings depicted. Funny, insightful, and gorgeous, it will definitely spark your kiddo’s imagination!
by Jeanette Winter
As a little boy, Henri Matisse drew on every surface imaginable – in the sand, in his school books...and later, as a lawyer, on his contracts, deeds, and wills. Needless to say, the little ingénue grew into one of Paris’ best-loved painters.
But that’s just the beginning. Matisse was blessed with another, more extraordinary story. At age seventy-two, the French master was bed-ridden as he tried to recover from cancer. He was old. He was too weak to paint. But he was unstoppable! He picked up a pair of scissors and began cutting out some of his most breathtaking and memorable work.
A wonderful way to teach children that it is always too soon to quit, this lovely biography shows how one door closed can lead to another one opened.
by Jonah Winter
Are your children afraid of taking artistic risks? Are they overly concerned about what their critics think? Then an introduction to Pablo Picasso is exactly what they need.
Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! captures the artist in his early career when the critics just didn’t understand. Picasso was quicker, brighter, and more gifted than his peers, but following the rules simply wasn’t in his repertoire. However, pushing the boundaries of creativity was.
With this highly-relatable picture book, kiddos won’t just be getting an entertaining introduction to Picasso, they’ll also be learning the value of pursuing their passions regardless of what critics say.
by Barb Rosenstock
Can you hear colors? Kandinsky could! Little Vasya was raised like any other proper, well-to-do Russian boy. He studied math, history, music, and was perfectly polite. But when it came time to learning how to paint, something amazing happened . . . a sensory explosion! Mixing colors meant hearing music, a wonderful orchestra in every paintbox.
Vasya faced a very important dilemma...would he obediently paint realistic still-lifes like a proper Russian boy? Or would he let the colors sing?!
Filled with rich vocabulary that blends colors with sounds (think: snapping cerulean points and crunching crimson squares), the text is every bit as lively as the illustrations. The back matter includes biographical information, reproduced paintings, and details on synesthesia (Kandinsky’s condition). An overall beautiful sensory experience.
by Jen Bryant
You may not have yet heard of Horace Pippin. But one look at his paintings, and they’ll speak to your heart. This is his story of defying all odds with pure gritty determination.
Horace Pippin loved to draw as a child. When he won a box of colored pencils in an art contest, the little boy was thrilled. But when his father abandoned his family, little Horace had to give up drawing in order to work.
Back from WWI, Horace rediscovered art – even when it meant using his left arm to guide his injured right arm to paint. Despite the many hardships throughout his life, Pippin managed to find a way to unleash his talent and earn his rightful spot as an American master.
Illustrations are inspired by Pippin’s folksy art and include his own quotes. The book includes straightforward biographical information in the back for further exploration.
Do your little ones have a favorite artist biography they just can’t put down? Share your best-loved books with us!
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